Oratory Prep Looks To Get Out Of The Basement

basketball-equipment-03By James Whelan

The 2007 season started out with a wealth of possibilities and optimism for Oratory Prep.  Winning their Christmas tournament and taking a 4-5 record into the heart of the Mountain Valley season, Oratory looked like they might finally climb out of the league’s basement.  Then the injury bug hit, and the team only won one of their next 14 games. 

This season, Oratory has a new coach and a young team that received some good experience last season – they could be in the fight for a winning season and a trip to the playoffs.

New Head Coach Brian Martin was an assistant at Oratory the past three seasons before being hired this summer. 

Injuries last season created opportunities for some players, so Martin enters this season with nine players with varsity experience.  That would be something that would make any coach optimistic entering a season.  “We have some real tough guards and got some young kids experience last year that will carry over to this year’s team.” said the new coach.

Oratory ran an off-season conditioning program for all their athletes.  “We had 35 participate and we were really excited for that,” said Martin.  Fifteen of the 35 were part of Martin’s club. 

Martin also had the team participate in the Newark Academy Summer League, a team camp at Villanova and Farleigh Dickinson’s league.  The team compiled a 12-10 record at Newark Academy.  “The parents were great and very supportive; most of the parents had to take their kids to and from most of the practices and league games,” Martin said.  

Oratory is located in Summit, but draws students from Madison, Chatham, New Providence, and even as far down as Springfield.  Known as an academic school more so than sports school, Oratory has not had too much success on the hardwood, but is strong in other sports like soccer, golf and tennis.       

Oratory will run a four guard spread rotation led by senior Steve Zychowski.  Zychowski, who is also phenomenal golfer, is good scorer and average 15 points per game last year.  Sophmore Scott Miller will play the point.  Miller is the purest basketball player Oratory has; he took advantage of playing time when the injury bug surfaced. 

C.J. Banks will play the three spot.  Banks had a setback last year with a knee injury five games into the season.  At 6’3, junior Sebia Legurre is Oratory’s biggest player, 6’0 Dwayne Jordan is a “space eater” under the boards, and  K.C. Buckley brings senior experience.

“We are going to be quicker than in the past and I am really excited about out guards they are tough, tough players,” said the Oratory coach.          

Martin is a 1990 graduated at Hanover Park where he played basketball.  “I always found time to coach basketball,” said Martin.  The Oratory job is Martin’s first head coaching job. Martin has always been coaching and teaching the game.  Even when Martin attended Fairfield University he coached the local CYO in Connecticut.  Martin, who owns his own business, said “I was lucky enough to get the job at Oratory.”

Like last year, Oratory found out early on where they stood in the conference.  This will be the last year for the Mountain Valley Conference and it will be one of the most balanced basketball conferences in the state. Oratory will be a team that could be right in the middle of the pack vying for the last Mountain Valley Conference crown.

Jim Whelan can be reached at njhoops@hotmail.com.

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